GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE WELSH AFFAIRS
FIRST REPORT OF SESSION 2000-01,
ON WALES IN THE WORLD: THE ROLE OF THE UK GOVERNMENT IN PROMOTING
It is clear that Wales does not generally enjoy
a high profile overseas and it appears that the reasons for this
are multiple and complex. It may be inevitable that a small country
such as Wales is less prominent internationally than its larger
neighbours, but it is nonetheless a source of concern if it means
that Wales is losing out on the cultural and economic benefits
which widespread international recognition brings.
The Government notes the Committee's concerns but
does not accept that Wales has a lower profile than similar sized
European countries or regions.
The British Tourist Authority's (BTA) marketing strategy,
which involves building up an increased awareness of Britain and
its constituent parts, will help to raise Wales' profile as a
tourism destination within Britain in its own right. In addition,
the 2001/5 strategy of the British Council makes a commitment
to promote the UK's constituent countries, including Wales, as
part of its overall promotion of the UK. In working to enhance
the UK's reputation in the world, the British Council continues
to draw upon the strengths and opportunities provided by the distinct
identities of each constituent country and to promote the UK as
socially and politically diverse.
Similarly, British Trade International (BTI) will
continue to work closely with Wales Trade International (WTI)
to enable business in Wales to benefit from international trade
and with the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) to ensure that the
strengths of Wales as a location for inward investment are understood.
Although many of our witnesses seemed comfortable
with the distinction, we find it difficult to disentangle the
promotion of the UK as a whole from the promotion of its constituent
countries. For many outside the UK (and, indeed, some inside it),
"Britain" means England. It is therefore important that,
notwithstanding the existence of bodies with a responsibility
for promoting Wales specifically, United Kingdom bodies acknowledge
and reflect the distinct identity of each constituent part of
the UK in their activities.
The Government accepts that the marketing of the
individual countries comprising Britain can sometimes be hampered
by the inability of some potential overseas visitors to distinguish
However, confusion over nomenclature does not negate the fact
that a raising of the profile of Britain as a whole will bring
benefits to Wales.
For this reason, the BTA's marketing strategy involves
building up an increased awareness of Britain as a destination,
and then moving on to promote the constituent parts, such as Wales,
as destinations within Britain in their own right. The BTA's evidence
to the Committee has already explained the process by which it
works very closely with the Wales Tourist Board (WTB) and the
other national tourist boards in order to achieve this.
The British Council's strategy for 2001/5 and beyond,
"The British Council and the Future" makes a commitment
to fully utilise the opportunities offered by devolution for promoting
the UK's constituent countries, including Wales, as part of the
overall promotion of the UK's strengths in the arts, education,
language, governance, science and technology. In addition, the
strategy contains a commitment to challenge outmoded stereotypes
of the UK by projecting the UK's creativity, cultural diversity
and recent achievements.
Territorial offices of the UK Government, including
the Wales Office, also have a role to play in accurately representing
the constituent countries of the UK abroad. The Wales Office regularly
engages in exchanges of information and best practice with international
partners in the field of regional government and, so far, these
have included partners from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Slovakia,
Ecuador and the Four Motor Regions ( Lombardy, Baden Wurtemburg,
RhoneAlpes and Catalonia).
We are pleased that Wales Trade International
and Trade Partners UK are working well together.
BTI has sought from its inception to ensure that
the interests of the devolved administrations are properly taken
into account, including through representation on its Board. The
Committee's recognition of the close working relationship between
Trade Partners UK and WTI is therefore welcome.
In addition, the Committee may wish to note that
in June 2001, WTI and the British Council worked together to organise
a successful seminar on exporting Welsh Creative Industries. The
British Council intends to continue working with WTI as part of
its work to increase the export of UK education, arts and creative
British Trade International is still a young organisation
but there is encouraging evidence that since its creation relations
between the WDA and IUK have been better than those with
IUK's predecessor, the Invest in Britain Bureau. We accept
that InvestUK's role is to maximise the total amount of
investment in the UK and this emphasises the importance of promoting
Wales abroad, alongside the UK as a whole. This is largely a matter
for the National Assembly for Wales and its sponsored public bodies.
The Government welcomes the Committee's recognition
of Invest UK's role in promoting the whole of the UK as the premier
location in Europe for inward investment and thus to serve all
regions of the UK. Whilst Invest UK cannot direct potential investors
to particular regions against the wishes of the client, it aims
to ensure that potential investors are aware of all the options.
The development of effective working relations with all of the
development agencies will therefore continue to be central to
We believe that Wales's poor share of the overseas
tourist market is largely due to the country's poor recognition
Around 4% of overseas visitors to the UK visit Wales
compared to the Welsh population share of approximately
5%. Poor 'brand
recognition' may play a part, but this relatively low share of
the inbound market cannot be attributed to a single cause. BTA
research shows that 70% of expenditure by overseas visitors to
the UK takes place in cities. However, Cardiff is currently the
only city in Wales which forms a major element in the overseas
visitor trail. Wales also has a lower share of the business tourism
market than the UK as a whole. This could be partly due to a relative
lack of facilities, and the BTA is supporting the WTB's campaign
for a conference centre to be built in Cardiff.
The BTA is working with senior political and public
figures in Wales to publicise Wales as a destination to overseas
markets. For example, a visit to Johannesburg by the Assembly
First Minister on 18th September was hosted by the BTA South Africa
Office and in April this year, the BTA and WTB organised a visit
to Wales by around fifty travel, trade and media leaders from
nine overseas markets, as part of a special programme of visits
devised to spearhead the tourism promotion of Britain around the
world. In addition, the BTA continues to promote Welsh sporting
events, as it did successfully with last year's Rugby World Cup.
More generally, BTA is about to launch its "Hidden
Britain" campaign to promote touring itineraries for each
part of Britain, including Wales, with the aim of drawing visitors
away from the usual "honeypot" destinations and towards
less visited destinations. In November, the BTA will publish its
new Walking Map featuring national trails throughout Britain.
The "Walking Campaign" will evolve over the next year
into a broader initiative covering rural and countryside pursuits
like walking and riding. Both these campaigns should bring benefits
The Committee has noted in its report the role played
by international festivals in attracting overseas visitors to
Wales (paragraph 24). The Committee may be encouraged to learn
that the British Council hopes to make use of the Hay festival
in forthcoming years as an opportunity to showcase UK and Welsh
literature to the British Council's overseas clients and contacts
in the fields of literature and publishing.
We acknowledge the efforts made by the BTA to
promote international tourism to all parts of the UK but we share
the concerns of the NAW and WTB that an overriding target based
on return on investment will, other things being equal, tend to
favour the highercost and betterestablished UK tourist
destinations. We recommend that the BTA's target for return on
investment should be balanced by clear, measurable targets for
the regional distribution of foreign tourists.
It has long been amongst BTA's responsibilities to
seek to increase the regional spread of incoming tourists outside
London. The most recent Funding Agreement between DCMS and the
BTA, covering the period 2001-02 to 2003-04, now sets
a measurable target for the Authority for the first time: to aim
to increase yearonyear the proportion of additional
spend that it delivers through visits outside London over the
threeyear period of the Agreement. The methodology for establishing
a baseline and measuring outcomes are being developed over the
The BTA has a number of responsibilities, e.g. assisting
industry, developing longerterm markets, promoting less
wellvisited destinations, which do not directly contribute
to maximising the rate of return on public investment (RoI) in
the Agreement, and these are taken into account when the target
level of RoI is agreed.
We recommend that the BTA and the WTB should develop
a strategy for promoting Wales as a firstchoice destination
for foreign visitors to the UK. This should involve working with
tour operators which bring foreign tourists into the country to
try to persuade them to include Wales on more of their itineraries,
and working with UK transport providers (such as the train operating
companies) to promote the provision of efficient, affordable transport
links between Wales and other UK tourist destinations.
The WTB published a strategy in 2000 which included
as a central aim the task of developing a positive identity for
Wales as an attractive tourism destination in target overseas
markets. The strategy sets the industry challenging targets for
increasing the number of overseas visitors to Wales up to the
year 2010. On policy issues such as transport and Wales, WTB normally
takes the lead, with BTA in support. However, the BTA is working
very closely with the WTB to assist in the delivery of the overall
strategy, particularly through developing a programme of marketing
activities to increase awareness of Wales abroad, with the aim
of stimulating a higher proportion of tourists to visit Wales
during their stay in the UK.
The Government and the Assembly both have a contribution
to make towards improving transport links between Wales and the
rest of the UK, since responsibility for transport by rail, air
and sea rests with the UK Government and responsibility for bus
services and roads within Wales rests with the Assembly. The UK
Government has set out plans for a substantial increase in investment
to modernise and improve transport networks. The 10 Year Plan
for Transport, published last year, announced significant additional
funding for transport infrastructure and services over the next
decade, which is likely to include improvements to many of the
major road and rail links between England and Wales.
Teaching of English to international students is
among the niche markets being promoted by the British Council
to encourage foreign visitors to select Wales as a first choice
destination. The British Council, in partnership with the WTB,
promotes the nine British Council accredited English language
centres in Wales through publicity campaigns, fairs and a website.
We welcome the creation by the Assembly of Cymru'n
Creu, which aims to meet the kind of concerns about poor coordination
expressed by many of our witnesses. It will be important for UK
Government departments, and bodies such as UK Sport, the BTA and
the British Council, to forge strong links with the consortium,
as well as directly with their Welsh counterparts.
The Government agrees, and is pleased that the BTA
is in the process of setting up a meeting with Cymru'n Creu, which
it is hoped will take place in the autumn. UK Sport already has
strong links with the Sports Council for Wales, which is represented
on Cymru'n Creu, along with other Welsh Assemblysponsored
bodies. DCMS is encouraging UK Sport to make the appropriate contacts
with Cymru'n Creu and to strengthen its links, building on the
good relations already established with its Welsh counterparts.
The British Council enjoys good relations with Cymru'n Creu and
its Director in Wales has been invited onto the consortium.
The Government also welcomes the Committee's recognition
of the positive model of cooperation which has been put
forward by Wales Arts International. The partnership hopes, over
the next few years, to extend its activities to include the training
of young artists and to assist performers and artists in Wales
to prepare themselves more fully to work in the international
context, particularly through improved marketing tools.
Efforts to promote Welsh programmes and films
internationally appear to be working well and witnesses from S4C
cited several examples of positive assistance they had received
from the Government and from ASPBs. Nonetheless, both felt that
they might benefit from more support in some areas. We recommend
that the Government examine, in conjunction with Sgrîn and
S4C, ways in which it might be able to provide more support for
the overseas marketing of Welsh films and television programmes,
both inside and outside the context of overall UK promotion.
The Film Council is developing a strategy for the
export of UK films. It will be doing so within the context of
the Creative Industries Export Advisory Group. The Film Council
is working closely with Sgrin and with the film organisations
from Scotland and Northern Ireland to develop a UK statement for
film. The Film Council will also be investing in training for
producers in dealing with Hollywood.
The Government welcomes the recent trade mission
to the Hollywood film industry, organised by WTI and attended
by the First Minister.
The Television Exports Inquiry Phases I & II
formed part of the programme of the Creative Industries Task Force,
on which the Assembly was represented by the Minister for Culture,
Sport and the Welsh Language, Jenny Randerson. Ms Randerson continues
to represent the Assembly on the Task Force's successor group,
the Creative Industries Ministerial Strategy Group.
Phase I of the inquiry made valuable recommendations
both for the industry and for Government and we responded by drawing
up a joint Action Plan. Phase II made recommendations for establishing
the conditions necessary to enable UK creative talent to realise
its full potential to satisfy the growing audiovisual economy.
The findings of the report informed the Communications White Paper.
Positive progress has been made in several areas
and in particular it has been encouraging to see how positively
the industry responded to the inquiry's recommendations via the
British Television Distributors Association (BTDA), of which S4C
is a member.
The Government remains committed to working in partnership
with the industry to improve the UK's export performance, including
Welsh export performance, not only in television, but in all the
We welcome the announcement in the Budget that
the 100 per cent writeoff of production and acquisition
expenditure, on completion, for British qualifying films with
budgets not exceeding ,15
million will be extended until 2005.
The Government welcomes the Committee's recognition
of this measure.
While Walesbased bodies may already be alert
to the benefits of promoting the language, we are not persuaded
that this is always the case at UK level and we believe that it
should be a guiding principle for all UK bodies involved in overseas
promotion that the Welsh language is an intrinsic and inalienable
part of Welsh culture and society, and that efforts to promote
Wales as part of the UK should reflect this.
The Government agrees with the Committee that the
Welsh language is an intrinsic part of Welsh
culture and recognises that, whilst responsibility
for promoting the language generally rests with the National Assembly,
there are areas where promotion of the language can be of benefit
to the promotion of the UK as a whole.
The British Council is alive to the opportunities
offered by the bilingual status of Wales within the UK and encourages
the Welsh Language Board to make use of its network of offices
and contacts overseas, in countries where issues of bilingualism,
language planning and language in the community may lead to joint
activity. In addition, the British Council welcomes the collaboration
of the Welsh Language Board in the staging of its Conference entitled
"Policies and Practices for Lesser Used Languages in Europe",
to be held in Cardiff in October 2001 under the auspices of the
European Year of Languages. The British Council continues to have
an interest in promoting the Welsh language, both as part of its
responsibility for language and as a human rights and equal opportunities
The BTA works closely with Walesbased partners
such as the WTB and the industry in Wales to promote Wales overseas.
The BTA's own inhouse guidance on understanding brands,
Britain', contains a section on Wales, which the WTB took the
lead in developing. It mentions the Welsh language as a key component
in establishing a distinctive Welsh identity for potential overseas
visitors. The Government acknowledges that the opportunities to
deploy the language itself in marketing contexts overseas are
restricted. However, opportunities have been taken to mention
the Welsh language, for example, in joint BTA/WTB promotional
material, and to enable the words 'Wales' and 'Cymru' to appear
together. In addition, BTA signposts tourists to key Welsh language
events such as the International Eisteddfod, while the BTA's Britain
Visitor Centre in London has Welsh language speakers available.
The Government welcomes the adoption of 2001 by the
European Union and Council of Europe as the European Year of Language
(EYL). The EYL will help to increase awareness of Europe's linguistic
heritage and to motivate European citizens to develop plurilingualism.
The Government has signed up to the Council of Europe's
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and recognises that
the encouragement and protection of such languages is important
to the preservation of Europe's diverse cultural heritage. The
Government has specified Welsh for the purposes of Part III of
the Charter, which contains provisions for the active promotion
of specific regional or minority languages in public life.
Other UK departments and public bodies will continue
to assist the National Assembly to promote Welsh culture overseas
On the strength of the evidence we have taken
we would not propose any changes to the present arrangements for
coordinating bids for international sporting events from
different parts of the UK. It appears that, while there is a sensible
level of coordination, Welshsporting bodies cannot
be prevented from bidding where they believe it is in their interests
to do so.
UK Sport will continue to work with the relevant
agencies in Wales on bids for major events, wherever appropriate.
Promoting Wales within the UK is an essential
prerequisite to promoting Wales in the rest of the world. We must
overcome ignorant and inaccurate stereotypes in Wales and the
UK. The Assembly and the Wales Office both have a key role to
play, but so do other Government departments and public bodies
such as DTI, the DfEE, the Office for National Statistics and
The Wales Office provides a voice for Wales at the
centre of Government and plays a major role in promoting accurate
and helpful perceptions of Wales.
Since devolution, the Wales Office has performed
an important function in broadening understanding of the Welsh
devolution settlement across Government and the UK as a whole
through regular liaison with policy makers in key areas
of Government and in developing written guidance about devolution
for use by policy makers, service deliverers and the public.
Another key function of the Wales Office is to explain
Welsh needs and priorities to those who deliver services and policies
for Wales. In particular, the Wales Office has been instrumental
in ensuring that new Government legislation takes full account
of Welsh needs and of the likely impact on the lives of Welsh
people. The Wales Office also acts to ensure that Welsh interests
are reflected in the distribution of Government finances.
An overarching aim of the National Curriculum for
England is to develop pupils' knowledge, understanding and appreciation
of their own and different beliefs and cultures, and how these
influence individuals and societies. Teachers will address these
issues across all subject areas.
Through the citizenship curriculum, to be introduced
in 2002, all pupils in England will be taught about the diversity
of national and regional identities in the UK and the need for
mutual respect and understanding.
Study of significant individuals and events under
the national curriculum for history includes aspects of the history
of Wales, where appropriate. Similarly, locations in Wales may
feature on the geography syllabus for 514 year olds.
The full national curriculum for England is available
at www.nc.uk.net and the Schemes of Work at www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes.
Where possible, the Office for National Statistics
endeavours to provide geographical breakdown of national statistics
to show figures for each of the UK's constituent countries, including
Wales. This applies to compendia publications such as "Britain
the Official Yearbook of the UK" and "Regional Trends",
as well as to publications issued by the Statistical Directorate
of the National Assembly for Wales such as the bilingual "Digest
of Welsh Statistics" and "Statistical Focus Wales".
In announcing the television license fee settlement
in February 2000, Chris Smith, the then Secretary of State for
Culture, Media and Sport, welcomed the fact that one of the BBC's
four priorities was improving programming for the nations and
There are clear advantages to Wales from being
included under the auspices of the international work of the UK
Government. Equally, there are clear advantages of the Assembly
and its sponsored public bodies carrying out independent promotion
work. How effectively Wales is promoted abroad will depend largely
on the strength of the working links between the Welsh and UK
bodies, and maintaining and strengthening those relationships
should be the top priority for all those concerned, though it
should not be done in such a way as to restrict the Assembly's
ability to pursue different policies and strategies from the Government.
The Government agrees that in order to promote Wales
overseas with maximum effectiveness, the closest possible working
links need to be fostered between the various agencies charged
with carrying out that role. The Memorandum of Understanding and
overarching agreements on European Affairs and International Relations,
between the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, continue
to provide the framework for such cooperation. These are
reviewed each year by the Joint Ministerial Committee, chaired
by the Prime Minister. Most UK Departments also have their own
bilateral concordats with the Assembly, which may cover international
The FCO and its posts overseas continue to assist
the National Assembly for Wales to further its international activity.
The National Assembly for Wales is one of the partner organisations
in the Britain Abroad Task Force (BATF), the new public/private
sector group established by the FCO and other public sector stakeholders
to improve the promotion of the UK overseas. The BAFT is working
closely with relevant bodies in all countries and regions of the
UK. The Government is satisfied that nondepartmental bodies
such as UK Sport and BTA have excellent relations with their Welsh
counterparts. This is an influential part of their business planning
and Ministers will continue to encourage them to maintain this
We welcome the inclusion of a provision for secondments
between the National Assembly and the FCO in the Concordat on
International Relations, but we do not believe that it goes far
enough. The Government should actively encourage secondments between
UK public bodies and their Welsh counterparts of all kinds and
at all levels. The new target for the proportion of senior civil
servants who have experience outside the civil service is welcome
and we recommend that, for the purposes of evaluating whether
or not the target has been met, secondments from the main Whitehall
departments to the National Assembly for Wales and its sponsored
public bodies should count as experience outside the civil service.
We recommend that the Government should introduce a target for
the proportion of UK posts overseas which have at least one member
of staff who has some direct experience of working for the Assembly
or another public body in Wales. This should apply not just to
embassies and consulates but to offices of bodies such as the
BTA and British Council.
The devolution White Paper, "A Voice for Wales",
made clear that staff working in the National Assembly for Wales
would remain part of the Home Civil Service, in order that the
Assembly should continue to benefit from the high professional
standards, expertise and integrity for which the British Civil
Service is renowned. The White Paper went on to confirm that established
arrangements for interchange with government departments and agencies
would remain in place to ensure that the Assembly has a wide pool
of talent and expertise at its disposal. As such, movement between
the Assembly and another Civil Service organisation continues
to count as a loan or secondment within the Service, rather than
as experience outside the Civil Service.
The presumption set for those entering the Senior
Civil Service is that people will have had experience both of
frontline delivery or operational management, and of working in
more than one culture. This presumption does not therefore preclude
staff from broadening their experience in another Civil Service
The Wales Office acts as a major mover of civil servants
between the National Assembly for Wales and central Government.
Currently, 89% of Wales Office staff are permanent employees of
the Assembly and of these, 36% are Cardiffbased Assembly
staff on secondments of 2 to 3 years. Secondments are staggered
so that there is a constant circulation of staff arriving from
and returning to the Assembly.
As well as moving staff from the Assembly into central
Government, the Wales Office has now begun to take staff on secondments
from other UK Government departments. This gives staff who have
previously had very little contact with Welsh affairs an opportunity
to learn more about Wales and about the devolution settlement
and to take this knowledge back to their home Department at the
end of the secondment. The Wales Office currently has staff on
secondment from the Department for International Development,
the Inland Revenue and the Cabinet Office.
The FCO is committed to encouraging secondments into
posts overseas. During the last financial year (April 2000 to
March 2001), approximately 35 trawl notices for vacancies overseas
were sent to the National Assembly for Wales. Vacancies included
positions at First Secretary and Counsellor level in prominent
posts such as Washington, UKRep Brussels and UKDEL Vienna. But
since the FCO has no control over whether National Assembly staff
choose to apply for such posts, the Government does not believe
that an FCO target for National Assembly secondments would be
productive. The FCO is, however, keen to consider with the National
Assembly for Wales, ways by which they might encourage more of
their staff to apply for secondments. Such appointments will continue
to be made on merit, in line with the need to maintain the highest
standards in both the Home Civil Service and the Diplomatic Service.
Tourist board staff have traditionally tended to
move around between tourist boards and this includes movement
between the BTA and WTB. While there does not appear to be a demonstrated
need to boost further the process of interchange by producing
specific targets, BTA is now encouraging greater "crossfertilisation"
by developing an enhanced secondment policy.
The British Council will actively pursue opportunities
to facilitate secondments to and from other public bodies in Wales.
Training and briefing on Wales and Welsh issues
is important for those overseasbased staff who are not able
to undertake secondments. Wherever possible, the Government should
arrange such training in conjunction with the National Assembly.
The Government agrees with this conclusion. The FCO
already has a wideranging programme of training and briefing
for its home and overseas staff, from junior grades up to senior
officials and Heads of Missions. This includes: regular presentations
on the Press and Public Affairs Officers courses for overseas
staff; induction training for new mainstream and policy entrants;
and briefing senior diplomats as part of their standard preposting
programme. The FCO also includes a devolution element in its Ambassador/High
Commissioner designate programmes, which may include meetings
in one or more of the devolved administrations. More recently
the devolved administrations have been involved in presentations
at Heads of Missions Conferences. In addition, the FCO invited
a working group of officials from the devolved administrations
to its Press and Public Affairs Officer's Conference for European
Union posts in Berlin this September. The FCO hopes to extend
such invitations to similar conferences elsewhere.
The Wales Office has developed a role as a centre
of expertise on devolution and constitutional change as it affects
Wales, which has included participating in training and seminars
with central Government departments. In addition, the Wales Office's
international exchanges on constitutional affairs regularly involve
staff of British overseas posts in helping to deliver events.
It should be recognised that participation by
Assembly Ministers and officials in UK negotiating teams in Europe
serves not only to ensure that Wales's interests are taken into
account in the negotiations, but to raise its profile on the European
The Government notes the importance which the Committee
places on Assembly Ministers participating in UK negotiating teams
in Europe and welcomes the fact that Ministers from the devolved
administrations, including four from the Assembly, have attended
and spoken for the UK at meetings of the Council of Ministers.
This is provided for in the Memorandum of Understanding and overarching
agreement on Coordination of EU Policy Issues between the
UK Government and the devolved administrations.
In addition, and also in accordance with these agreements,
Wales's interests are always taken fully into account in the preparation
of the UK position, whether or not an Assembly Minister is expected
to attend the relevant meeting.
Of course, an essential feature of the devolution
settlements across the UK is that the final responsibility for
policy and representation at European Council level remains with
the Government of the United Kingdom.
Recognising that the decision as to where to locate
its diplomatic and consular posts is always a matter for the country
concerned, we recommend that the Government should continue actively
to promote to London embassies the benefits of consular representation
The FCO agrees that it is for the host countries
and foreign embassies based in the UK to decide where they wish
to establish consular representation. However, in his speech on
Wales in the World at the Wales Forum in Newport on St David's
Day 2001, the former FCO Minister, Brian Wilson, focused on encouraging
consular links with Cardiff and the FCO has subsequently written
to the London Diplomatic Corps asking them to consider establishing
permanent consular offices in Wales. The FCO continues to liase
with the National Assembly in arranging visits by foreign embassy
staff to Cardiff.
St David's Day events -
like St Patrick's Day events in Irish Embassies -
should be a fixed part of the calendar of every UK Embassy.
Posts are encouraged to celebrate St David's Day
where appropriate. This year around twenty posts celebrated the
event from Paris to Osaka.
The provision of genealogical research services
to those outside the UK, especially via the internet, is a promising
way of reaching out to the Welsh community in the world, bringing
them back into contact with their home country and helping to
bolster the Welsh identity of second and subsequent generation
emigrants. This is something which should be borne in mind when
the Government and Assembly are considering funding for genealogical
The National Statistics website (www.statistics.gov.uk)
provides guidance and advice on how to obtain birth, marriage
and death certificates from the Registration Service and also
provides links to the main websites which would be of interest
to anyone in the Welsh community conducting research into the
family tree. These are:
Public Records Office (www.pro.gov.uk)
Family Records Centre (www.familyrecords.gov.uk)
National Library of Wales (www.llgc.org.uk)
We believe that the Wales Office should lead by
example in the provision of information in the Welsh language
on government websites, and it is a source of concern that it
has allowed itself to be overtaken by some other Government departments
and agencies. We understand that demand for translators is currently
high and that the National Assembly's translation resources are
stretched. It might be that there is a need to reexamine
the prioritisation of the translators' work, or it might be that
more resources are required to employ, and if necessary to train,
new translators. In any event, we believe that it should be a
high priority for the Wales Office to establish a fully bilingual
The Wales Office now has a Welsh version of its core
website (at www.swyddfa.cymru.gov.uk). When the Wales Office was
established in July 1999, the immediate priority was to launch
a website which would be accessible to other Whitehall departments
as well as to the Assembly and people in Wales. Completion of
the Welsh language version of the site was, as the Committee suggests,
delayed by heavy pressures on the National Assembly's translation
and information technology services and it was eventually necessary
to outsource translation and production. The Wales Office's translation
needs are now met partly by the National Assembly's Translation
Service under the terms of a service level agreement and partly
by external translators.
In addition, UKonline.gov.uk is committed to providing
information and services to every UK citizen in the most effective
way possible. Citizens can choose to view the Welsh language version
of the site. The UKonline portal is the only governmentrun
internet service with links to external news providers and political
parties. This realises the government's vision of transparency
and inclusiveness. Those interested in Wales can, via the portal,
access the full range of BBC Cymru services, newspapers and also
totalwales.com. The editorial team maintains a watching brief
on new Welsh online services, linking where appropriate.
3,972 people have chosen the "Wales" option
on the homepage since the beginning of March 2001. This constitutes
0.887% of the overall preferences. Within the next twelve months,
users will be able to prioritise news from the National Assembly
for Wales, Wales Office and other relevant government services,
including local authorities. Once they have registered with the
site, news relevant to them will be immediately presented upon
We commend the BBC on the establishment of Cymru'r
Byd. It is an excellent service which, as the internet becomes
more dominant as a means of international communication, will
help to ensure that Wales has a strong internet presence.
The Government welcomes the Committee's commendation.
The Government believes that other, longer established websites
such as BBC News Wales and HTV Wales also deserve praise.
11 October 2001